Ordinary Trip to the Grocery Store with Your Kid? Explain as You Go

Today’s guest post comes from Laura Schlachtmeyer at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), with suggestions on how to help your child develop money management and math skills.

We all know our kids are always watching and learning (even when we wish they weren’t). This applies to the way you use and manage money as well. Every day, you make decisions about money that might not be visible to your kids. For example, they may not know that you set a budget for the grocery store—and that’s why you didn’t get them that box of fruit snacks.

Next time you’re at the store, try something new: Think out loud and talk through what you’re doing.This helps your children see how you think about spending and helps them understand your decisions.

Here are three steps to turn your next shopping trip into a chance for your children to build their money skills.

  1. Make Your Shopping List Together

Making a shopping list might be a silent activity for you—you sit down at the table with pen and paper, or you open an app, and list what you need. Next time try talking through your list with your kids.

“I see we’re getting low on peanut butter, which we’ll need to make sandwiches for the week. I’ll also write down eggs and milk, which I buy every week since we use them to make breakfast and other recipes.”

You can also ask your kids to help you make the list. Let them check the cabinets or think about what things they use each week.

This is a perfect opportunity to introduce the idea of a budget. Spending can be invisible or mysterious to kids—they make up the rules if they aren’t told what they are. Talk about how you need to keep track of how much you spend on groceries so that you have enough money for other things, such as gas or the cable bill. Explain that making a list helps make sure you don’t buy things you don’t need and overspend, even if that means having to cut back on a few extra things you want.

  1. Talk as You Shop

When you’re at the store, it’s time to talk. You likely already know which brands you like to buy or whether you’ll decide to purchase something if it’s on sale. Maybe you even choose which grocery store you go to based on its prices, what you need that day, or the coupons you have. Instead of just bringing your kids along for the ride, share your reasoning with them. At the store, each item you put in your cart is a chance to tell your kids why you’re buying it instead of a similar item at a different price point.

Older children can help you comparison shop and find ways to save by choosing a different brand or quantity. This is also a chance to explain why you may purchase things even if they’re the more expensive option.

“I see that this other soup brand is cheaper but it’s worth it to me to spend an extra 50 cents on this one, because we all like it better. Let’s try to find another item where we can save 50 cents, to make up the difference.”

As you shop, you can refer back to your budget. If your child asks for something not on the list, you can work together to evaluate if it’s okay to purchase. Maybe the item is on sale, or you have a coupon. Other times, you may need to wait to buy something.

  1. Explain Your Purchase

As you approach the cash register, you might have a running total of the cost in your head so you aren’t surprised by the amount. What if instead you did the math out loud so your kids can hear?

“I think our total will be about $50—I rounded up each item a little bit in my head and added it up as we shopped. Let’s use the debit card since I don’t have enough cash with me. The debit card subtracts the money from our bank account right away.”

If you have young children, it may not be obvious that you’re trading money for the items in your cart—especially if they don’t see you use cash. Discussing the decision-making process helps your kids understand that even if you’re just swiping a card, you’re spending money you’ve earned on these groceries.

You can also discuss whether you stayed within your budget, or why you needed to spend a little extra during this trip.

When you think out loud, you clarify what you’re doing and why. Whether you’re at the grocery store, paying bills, or online shopping with your kids, get into the habit of thinking out loud during your day-to-day money and time management activities so they can follow along.

Ways to Keep Talking

Check out some of our tools and resources for more ways to keep the conversation going:

  • What’s on a receipt: Show your child how you estimate the price you’ll pay at the register and practice rounding up to include sales tax.
  • Pretend play: Explain what different people do at the grocery store—cashiers and customers—and play out different scenarios.
  • Conversation starters: Learn how to talk to your kids in early childhood, middle childhood, and teen years.

You can also join our challenge to try one new thing to grow your child’s money skills.

Give Your Child a Quick Readiness Check for This School Year

Surveys show that 90% of parents believe their child is performing at or above grade level. However, their teachers indicate that only 39% of students start the school year prepared for grade-level work, and other indicators such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) agree with them. Learning Heroes has created a quick readiness check for families to help them assess if their child has mastered their previous year’s math and reading skills.

The readiness check provides three to five questions for students who completed kindergarten through eighth grade last school year in both math and reading. The results give you a quick assessment of whether your child is ready for the coming school year and where your child may need some extra support getting back up to speed. You can also use Learning Heroes’ Super 5 and Readiness Roadmap to help you find resources to support your child at home.

Handbook Helps Local Leaders Engage Districts on ESSA

Local implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the focus of many new resources for stakeholders, as school district begin to create their own ESSA implementation plan. One of the latest, which National PTA contributed to, is Meaningful Local Engagement Under ESSA—Issue 2: A Handbook for Local Leadersfrom Partners for Each and Every Child and the Council of Chief State School Officers. This is a follow up to Issue 1, which focused on school district and school leaders.

The handbook focuses on how school districts, families, and community advocates can engage in three key areas:

  1. Needs Assessments and Priority-Building
  2. School Improvement Strategies
  3. Resource Alignment

The first area is designed to help school districts determine their needs for school improvement and increasing student achievement. Districts then engage with their families and communities to prioritize these needs.

The second area takes those priorities and looks at strategies schools can use to improve student achievement. The handbook covers how districts can use a “whole child” approach (like Illinois has chosen in its state ESSA implementation plan) to meet student needs. Areas covered include:

  • Improving Data Systems and Reporting
  • Restructuring Academic Assessments
  • Incorporating Technology in the Classroom
  • Introducing Advanced Coursework
  • Increasing Access to After-School and Expanded Learning
  • Creating a Positive/Pro-Social School Climate
  • Increasing Nutrition and Food Access
  • Aligning and Supporting Early Childhood Education
  • Reducing Chronic Absence
  • Increasing Access to the Arts
  • Supporting English Learners
  • Supporting Students with Disabilities
  • Supporting Students in Foster Care and Experiencing Homelessness
  • Supporting Teachers and Leaders

The final area of focus is resource alignment. After prioritizing needs and selecting strategies, school districts must determine how to adequately fund those school improvements. This section help districts and advocates with resource mapping and budgeting. Opportunities for ESSA funding from federal and state governments are covered as well.

Finally, the report provides additional resources and tools, as well as a glossary of terms that those new to the discussion may not be familiar with. Download the reportand begin discussing with your school and district how your PTA can be involved in creating your district’s ESSA implementation plan.

 

Engage for Education Equity Toolkit

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Illinois’s ESSA implementation plan emphasize family engagement as a critical piece for improving student achievement. To help empower parents, families, caregivers, students, and other community members, the Dignity in Schools Campaign, Partners for Each and Every Child, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund have partnered to create the Engage for Education Equity Toolkit.

The toolkit provides resources, explanations, and processes to help stakeholders like PTAs engage with their school district’s implementation of ESSA to ensure that every child receives the quality education they deserve. The toolkit includes:

  • Fact sheets on various aspects of ESSA at the local level
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to engage with school administrators, create advocacy plans, and effectively advocate for your child
  • Letter templates for contacting decision-makers
  • Sample meeting materials
  • Case studies of effective engagement in school districts across the country
  • A glossary of education and ESSA-related terms so you can understand the terms used by school administrators

PTA has been an advocacy organization from its founding. When we advocate for children with our school districts, we can have a tremendous effect not just on our child’s school but also for all the children in our district. Take advantage of the Engage for Education Equity Toolkit, as school districts are creating their ESSA implementation plans now.